Posted in mindset, storytelling


I’m volunteering at The Moth StorySlam tonight in Phoenix. While I’m there, I can throw my name into the hat for an opportunity to tell a 5-minute story on stage.

(I’ve had the opportunity to tell stories twice. One went well; the other, not so much.)

The theme this month is BOLD.

I’ve been thinking … what have I done that is bold and makes a good story?

What have I done that is bold?

I came to realize that it depends on perspective. I’ve been called synonyms of bold for wearing my hair really short. I don’t feel bold doing it, though. Authentic? Lazy?

Perhaps I need to shift my point of view to see what an audience might see as bold.

Unless I think of something better, I’m going to talk about getting married … twice … with no white dresses involved. Which, much like my hair, doesn’t feel bold but was a big deal the first time. (I think for second marriages, people at large are more chill. And also, my mother wasn’t involved at all.)

What have you done that is bold? Does it feel bold to you?

Posted in food, meandering, storytelling

An interesting challenge: Canada edition

The Climbing Daddy is friends with the couple who own the fishing lodge we stayed at in Canada. As a result, we were there the week before they officially opened for the season, so they weren’t serving meals.

They were apologetic but assured us that in terms of appliances and equipment, there was a fully stocked kitchen.

We flew into Williams Lake, a small town northeast of Vancouver, where we were picked up for the 90-minute drive northeast to the lodge. Before heading up, we went grocery shopping.

This was the challenge: what were we going to make?

It’s always challenging to cook in someone else’s kitchen. We didn’t know exactly what “fully stocked” meant. We didn’t know what foods would be available or not in small town Canada. And we needed everything for cooking—no set of oils, spices, dressings, etc. on hand. And we didn’t have international roaming, so no internet while we were at the store.

It turned out, there was a fridge/freezer, oven, stove, microwave, coffeemaker, kettle, toaster. There were pots and pans and a few but enough cooking utensils. Dishes, bowls, plates, glasses, mugs, forks, spoons, knives. There were a few Tupperware-type containers. There was a grill and tools on the patio. Some napkins, aluminum foil, hand towels, dish soap, and a drying rack.

There was salt, pepper, honey, and packets of artificial sweeteners.

At some point, we borrowed a colander.

The biggest challenge in preparation was making food that was tasty without a spice cabinet. We had prepackaged pasta and salads (that came with dressing) and made other things from scratch. We had fruit and nuts and cheese for snacking. Eggs, potatoes, a bag of fresh stir fry veggies.

Overall, we ate well and it was, if nothing else, entertaining to pull meals together.

If we had thought of it, we would have bought a couple more storage containers (and just left them for the next guests). We couldn’t keep many leftovers, and it would have made life a little simpler (and fewer dishes!) if we could have made larger portions with leftovers.

If you had a “fully stocked” kitchen (without really knowing what that included) and only one chance at the front end to go food shopping, what would you plan?

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mindset, motivation, storytelling

My 20-year anniversary of…

…my senior recital.

For those who didn’t go through this, a senior recital is a big deal (for most of us). As an education major, I was required to perform a 30-minute solo recital as one of my graduation requirements. (I could have instead performed a 30-minute jury, which means just for a panel of professors who would grade it. Either way, it’s a 30-minute performance.) Many of us included some sort of duet or small ensemble as our final piece, and the ed majors usually shared recitals, taking turns, making an hour-long performance between the two.

Anyway, for anyone, it’s a lot of work. And it’s a little intimidating for those of us who were more accustomed to performing in an ensemble.

But my sophomore year of college, I developed some random pain issue in my right pinky finger. I was able to play my flute for 10-15 minutes each day before the pain caused me to stop. It would linger for hours. I also couldn’t write and ended up buying a laptop to be able to take notes.

It was written off by doctors as tendonitis.

I stopped taking lessons and participating in ensembles so it could rest. Six months later, with no improvement, I was given warning that I couldn’t continue in the music department without lessons or ensembles, since they were required for graduation.

And so I stopped playing flute and started playing trombone. Trombone doesn’t use any fingers.

Being a beginner in college was terrible. I took lessons with someone in the trombone studio, and at the end of my junior year, I successfully re-auditioned into the department on trombone.

Needing to be good enough to give a recital before I could graduate, I was immediately off the four-year plan. I practiced as much as I could, but like any other physical skill, the muscles need to build strength and endurance.

By my second senior year, I was practicing two to three hours every day, in addition to time in ensembles. I was getting … less bad.

Now, I hadn’t been a great flute player at all, and I suspect expectations of me all around weren’t that high. I don’t really know, and it’s probably just as well.

But something happened in these years. I learned grit. I had a giant mindset change. I had been very fixed mindset. When I started college, it was “The people around me have been taking lessons for years and I’ve only been for one year. I’ll never catch up or be as good.”

At the time, I had no idea what else I would do with my life, so switching to another instrument and continuing on the same path was the only viable option. I had to catch up and be as good.

By my third (and final) senior year, my private teacher suggested I was playing well enough to pass a jury. There was no way I was giving a jury! I’ve done massive amounts of work to get here—I’m giving a recital!

And so I did. On April 18, 1999, a Sunday evening. In a satiny blue shirt and black pants. Sharing a recital with a sax player. I played well. I was excited and proud.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (with regards to things that require preparation and skill).

By the time I graduated, I had shifted to, “If I can get this good in this amount of time, what happens if I keep going?”

I found a teacher in NYC. I practiced three or four hours most days. In the financial desert of a teacher’s summer, I paid my bills playing gigs and teaching lessons.

All of that, 20 years later, is represented in this anniversary. A date I remember and at least give a head nod to every year.

At this point, I haven’t played a trombone in quite some time. Moving to Arizona wasn’t good for my playing, and when time became scarce, trombone was one of the things to go.

But the lessons I learned, the mindset shift—to say nothing of all the extra things I got to learn and do in two extra years of school and all of the amazing people I met on my musical journey—those have stayed with me. And maybe one of these days, I’ll pick the old horn back up and start over again.


Posted in about me, ebb & flow, storytelling

I had a dream…

A week or so ago, I had a dream that I remembered when I woke up. A few details of it have stuck with me, and it’s been turning over in my head a bit…

The dream below; side comments in brackets:

I was racing my third Ironman. [I have never raced anything close to an Ironman in distance, but I have done a few sprint triathlons. An Ironman is a total of 140.6 miles; a sprint is about 16.]

The first two were successful. This one was out of order: first we swam, then we ran, then we biked. [Typically the order is swim, bike, run.]

I had completed the swim. I was near the end of the run, it was raining, and I was exhausted. The route went right past the hotel The Climbing Daddy and I were staying at, so I decided to stop in, get changed, and take a nap before continuing on to the bike. [This would definitely not be allowed in a race.]

I ended up sleeping for hours instead of minutes and woke up 15 minutes before the end of regulation. [Only times under 17 hours count.]

I was kicking myself for sleeping that long and was also annoyed that I had to finish the run to retrieve my bike.

I woke up thinking it was odd for lots of reasons, but it’s been poking at me off and on.

So what I’m taking from it for now is this:

I can do hard things. (I had completed two of these races prior.)

But when I do them out of order, they’re much harder, I tire more quickly, I make bad choices which lead to me not being able to do The Thing.

For practical application, I’m not entirely sure what The Thing is, or what I’m doing out of order, or if I even have control over the order. (I didn’t in the dream.) There are a few things in life I’m struggling with pretty hard, but I can’t (yet?) apply this to them, exactly.

So what I’m hanging onto now is: I can do hard things. Will let the rest fall as it will.



Posted in about me, ebb & flow, meandering, storytelling

How do you know when to give up? a personal story

I’ve wanted to leave teaching and go into health and wellness (which really is just another kind of teaching) for years.

At the advice of my trainer at the time, I went and got my personal trainer certification because it has a nutrition component and that would be good enough credential to do weight loss mentoring.

The amount of nutrition training in the cert was minimal. I didn’t feel equipped on paper to do it. (Kind of like being a doctor. But that’s another rant for another day.)

I opened a personal training business—Second Chance FitCenter—out of my living room (or formerly known as the living room—all equipment and empty space, no furniture).

I connected with a business mentor and through my work with her rebranded to just my name. Took on the belief that people care if you can help them, not if you have the right paperwork. Quit my day job. Was doing one-on-one fat loss mentoring, online accountability groups, webinars, make-and-take classes for personal care products and household cleaners, occasional larger clinics/speaking engagements, had a blog, had classes, and was still doing personal training. It was great. Everything was small (except the clinics), but it was fun, people had success, I got a lot of positive feedback.

But the marketing part. I’m a socially anxious introvert by nature (have worked on that a lot, and most people wouldn’t know it). But knowing how to connect with strangers to try to sell them stuff? Not anywhere in my skill set.

The mentor turned out not to be awesome and in a women business owners Facebook group, she soon thereafter was asking for advice doing exactly what she had been advising me on.

When I got divorced, I went back to teaching, but soon thereafter went back to school (while still working) so I could get a degree in health coaching and then be employable doing what I was unable to market myself into on my own.

The class schedule conflicted with my inflexible work schedule, and after trying to work more hours and take fewer classes (which was an internal-life disaster—more work hours sucked up substantially more brain space than just the extra time at work), I dropped out.

If I believed in destiny, fate, or other magical extrinsic forces playing games with us, I would say that being a health coach was not meant to be.

But I don’t. So instead, I’m just frustrated.

Writing here helps. Working on my book helps. Writing is one of my great loves.

But ultimately, most of my energy is still going to teaching.

(Let me take a moment to say: I love teaching kids how to play instruments and so many other things that are wrapped up in that. I do not love the circumstances through which I’m expected to do that at this point. If there was a teaching job with a better schedule within a reasonable commute from here, I’d take it and, presumably, get my mojo back.)

My wandering thoughts really boil down to: how do you know if you’re working hard on a dead end? How do you know if you’re just working the wrong way, and that if you worked it differently, it would work? How do you find that path? How do you know when to give up?

And: do you know of any grants that would allow me to create and implement a health and wellness program at one of my schools? My principal is amenable. I just need some money…